Alibaba Cloud is one of the top three providers of cloud computing services in the world. Source: Reuters

Malaysia gets first global data center, thanks to Alibaba Cloud

ALIBABA CLOUD today began operations of Malaysia’s first global public cloud platform, as the company seeks to become the premier provider of cloud-based computing services and help small-to-medium businesses drive their growth in the new digital economy.

“The Malaysia data center will give us a leading edge to support the growth of SMEs and other businesses in the region,” Simon Hu, Alibaba Cloud’s president as well as the Group’s senior vice-president, was quoted as saying in a company statement.

“In the near future, cloud computing, data technology and AI will become fundamental tools for all companies and organizations to operate effectively. The newly opened data center will boost Malaysia’s cloud infrastructure and be the digital foundation to realize the eWTP vision in the country.”

Malaysia will join 14 other countries as the home of an Alibaba Cloud data center, a group that includes mainland China, Hong Kong, Japan, Australia, and Singapore. The Malaysia-based center will not only serve the country of 31 million people, but will also serve as a hub for businesses looking to link up with other parts of Asia Pacific.

“I think that we see a huge potential in Malaysia for cloud adoption, especially given it’s a piece of the Digital Transformation and the demand in local enterprise to adopt future proof technology,” said Raymond Ma, the head of Alibaba Cloud’s head of ASEAN and ANZ, to Tech Wire Asia in a phone interview. 

Alibaba Group chairman Jack Ma speaks during the Computing Conference in Yunqi Town of Hangzhou, Zhejiang province, China. Source: Reuters

“Malaysia is a very active country in the region for its adoption of not only the cloud, but AI and big data technology. That is why we made the decision to open in Malaysia and bring our technology there.”

The company said that the Malaysian center will be another link a chain that is being weaved between other operations in Hong Kong and Singapore. The solutions will ostensibly help drive up cross-border business, and improve disaster recovery and network speeds.

“We treat Malaysia as one of our very, very important nodes in the global network and we want to leverage this network to produce cross-border services for Malaysian enterprise,” said Ma.

He went on to explain that the traditional role of cloud computing services was to help provide a data backup function, which is supported by Alibaba Cloud’s overall infrastructure. This was especially supported by the company’s wide range of both local and global partners which offer support at every level of business.

Alibaba has been working to build up its partner ecosystem to include as many local partners as possible, probably to ensure that its business model can be localized as much as possible. The company has recently partnered with Fusionex and TIME, who will be helping the company to align their various services with the local demand.

According to a statement from the company, the data center will act as the basis from which enterprises will be able to access cost-effective cloud-based services that can help them accelerate and scale at a much higher rate. The center is said to be able to help businesses with previously low latency or data sovereignty access a way to store and process huge amounts of data in Malaysia.

AWS Amazon Web Services

Amazon Web Services and other cloud players are moving to invest in their own data centers. Source: Shutterstock

Furthermore, the center will also give local enterprises access to a range of cloud-based products and services, including elastic computing, database service, networking, cybersecurity measures, middleware, big data capabilities and analytical tools as well. The company’s official statement said that its services would likely be most useful to governments and large corporations who have huge data needs, but the modularity of the center’s products will likely also help the small business.

A significant focus for the company is its offering of its “MaxCompute” big data service, which is capable of storing and processing huge amounts of structural data, in terabyte or petabyte chunks. Such services will be crucial to helping to build up Malaysia’s data intelligence base.  

Alibaba has been working closely with Malaysian entities for a few years now to help build up its current base of cloud and big data capabilities. According to Ma, one of the big value-adds of cloud computing is its ability to handle unique big data and artificial intelligence technologies. Alibaba worked with several municipal government to bring their cloud-based services to handle metropolitan problems, from transportation management to healthcare distribution through various “City Brain” initiatives.

The company now offers professional training as well as startup support through its Create@Alibaba program in order to encourage the use of cloud and big data technology. All these programs fall in line with Malaysia’s vision to emerge as a pioneer of the region’s digital dreams.

“We are among the global technology leaders pushing the adoption of cloud computing in the Asean market,” said Ma.

“[Our expertise is] in helping companies growth their technology innovation. We really help companies across diverse sectors to solve different kinds of problems, which I think is the most important thing to bring to our customers.”